Ringworm is caused by which fungus? | Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Ringworm is caused by which fungus
Image Credit: cdc.gov

When it comes to skin infections such as Ringworm, it often feels like the worst time of suffering ever. The reason being, Ringworm can be pretty large and visible on your skin. Furthermore, it itches on the circular area a lot. Therefore, it may cause you stacks of discomfort. Ringworm is caused by fungus. However, which is usually what patients ask? 

ringworm is caused in babies
Source: Medical News Today

To begin with, according to studies, over 40 types of fungus infection can result in ringworm. It includes Trichophyton, Havilicova B, Microsporum, Czaika VA, and Epidermophyton. Although, a recent study mentions that dermatophytes cause ringworm in humans. Dermatophyte is a fungus that feeds on keratin. For the most part, Keratin is a type of fibrous protein present on the human head and surface of the skin. It makes your skin more rigid and protective against any bacteria or fungus. However, Dermatophytes feed on Keratin on the skin, making it less safeguarded and easy to infect. 

Today in this reading, we present the entire history of ringworm with symptoms to look out for. Furthermore, what to do for Ringworm’s diagnoses, and what is the recommended treatment for this skin infection? This reading will help you if you are unable to figure out what skin infection you have? Do you have a ringworm? If yes, what to do? So, let’s begin:

About Ringworm skin disease | Ringworm is caused by what? 

As the name suggests, Ringworm is neither a parasite nor a worm. Furthermore, it does not spread via any worm. It indeed is caused by dermatophytosis. Dermatophytosis is a fungal infection. When a Dermatophyte attacks, your skin starts to multiply itself. For example, one Dermatophyte becomes two, two creates another two, and the cycle goes on. As mentioned before, Dermatophyte feeds on the layer of Keratin over the human skin, which prevents it from damage. By eating all the Keratin, Dermatophyte creates a circle over the skin, i.e.., a ring. This is called a ringworm. 

What does a ringworm look like?

Tinea is another term in-use for ringworm rash. When a person suffers from ringworm, he/she gets a circular rash on the skin which itches. However, the skin between the “circle,” i.e.., the circle’s inner area, looks fine. Ringworm is when a red and infected ring appears on the skin. To begin with, a ringworm can appear anywhere on the human body, such as skin, scalp, feet, and groin. The ringworm of the body or skin is called tinea corporis. Ringworm infection on the cranium or scalp is known as tinea capitis. On the feet, it is called an athlete’s foot or tinea pedis. At last, the ringworm of the genitals is called tinea cruris, i.e.., jock itch. 

Are all fungal infections ringworm? 

The answer is no. Not all infections that appear in the shape of a ring are not ringworm infections. To the reader’s surprise, other infections look similar to ringworm but aren’t. For example, nummular eczema also appears in a ring-shape. However, it is an infection in coin-shape. As the inner circle’s skin is also infected. Often, in nummular eczema, the wound oozes pus (dead white skin cells) and becomes crusty overtime. Similarly, Spider bite also looks much similar to ringworm rash. You can see the differential between the two by looking at the symptoms of ringworm dermatophyte rash infection. 

Lastly, Lyme disease or rash are identical when it comes to appearance. Although, it happens when a tick bites you. Here’s a fun fact: The Lyme rash takes up to three months to react and become visual on the skin. It is curable within several weeks. 

Symptoms of Ringworm Fungal Infection | Ringworm is caused by Dermatophytes

Visual appearance

One of the best ways to see if you have ringworm is by focusing on your skin’s visual appearance. Suppose it is a bruise in ring-shape with flaky clear skin in the inner area. It is a ringworm rash. More often, the ring slightly overlaps, and thus, you can feel it expanding. Some patients also experience the occurrence of overlapping rings when the rash expands. 


If you have a ringworm infection, you will experience irresistible itchiness around the ring area. It is recommendable not to touch it or itch because it can lead to the expansion of ringworm infection in other areas (probably wherever you touch). 

Red Bumps

In rare cases of ringworm infection, red bumps also appear in the inner area of the ring. It often happens among patients who have this infection for the first time. Over time, the red bumps become dry and patchy. They also itch sometimes. 

Note: The symptoms of ringworm are very less in number. Therefore, it is recommendable to reach out for medical attention if the rash does not go away after 2 weeks. Till then, it is also advisable to keep the wound clean and moisturized. You can also use household natural products such as coconut oil, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, or powdered licorice. By applying one of these products, you will relax from itchiness, redness, and expansion/overlapping of rings for a temporary period. However, these home remedies are not a perpetual solution. 

Ringworm is caused by what? 

Yes! As discussed before, ringworm infection majorly take place by dermatophyte fungus, which feeds on keratin. However, there are other reasons for a patient to catch a ringworm infection. That’s right! Ringworm rash is highly contagious. Thus, the following can be one of the reasons for it: 

Human to Human transmissibility 

Ringworm rash very quickly transfers to other people during skin-to-skin contact. Thus, while touching an infected person, it is recommendable that you use latex gloves. Apart from this, if the infected person has a ringworm rash on the groin area, sexual contact with such a person can infect you as well. 

Animal to Human transmissibility

Source: CDC

To the reader’s surprise, Ringworm fungal infection is widespread among cows, dogs, and cats. These are usually the animals that people pet at their homes. Thus, if your pet has ringworm rash, it is recommendable to groom or pet your pet with care and precaution. For example, wear latex gloves while applying medicine or home remedies.

Objects/items to Human transmissibility

Ringworm is caused by touching and using infect person’s personal items. Such rash is as contagious as other fungus infections. Therefore, if you are using things like a towel, blanket, bathrobe, or clothing of an infected person, there are chances that you will also catch the infection. More often, the visual symptoms of ringworm rash appear later than you expect. Hence, it is highly recommendable to avoid sharing personal grooming objects with a person who has a dermatophyte infection. 

Medicinal experts have found the answers for how long until Ringworm is no longer contagious? And, to the reader’s surprise, it takes up to 48 hours when ringworm is longer spreadable. It is noteworthy that the contagion quality of ringworm stops only when the infected person starts taking treatment for the infection. In the absence of treatment, ringworm may overlap and spread to the other parts of the body. 

What are the precautions? 

Ringworm is a common disease. It spreads as easily as cold. When you are in a public place or using public washrooms such as in the gym, you must take precautions to prevent yourself from getting a ringworm infection. Numerous people use public washrooms and accessories throughout the day. Hence, if someone has a jock itch, you may get it too. So, check out the following precautions:

Clean and Dry

Studies on Dermatophyte have concluded that these fungi can only survive and multiply in wet spots. Hence, if you want to avoid ringworm rash in the crotch area, keep it clean and dry. Do not overclean it with soap because it can lead to itchiness and rash. 

Avoid shoes

Ringworm is caused by fungi that lives on the skin and find warm area to live and multiply. In the event that you are suffering from tinea pedis or athlete’s foot, it is recommendable that you wear footwear with open-space at the front. Fully closed shoes cause more sweat. And as mentioned before, moisture allows dermatophytes to multiply and expand. 

Stay hygienic

This is one of the most important steps. Whether you have a ringworm rash or not, hygiene must be your priority because many contagious diseases spread when a person is unhygienic. Especially if your fingernails and toenails are long, they will trigger itchiness and further spread fungus over the other body parts. 

Quick cold shower

One of the major reasons you must take a cold shower is that fungal microorganisms survive in warm environments. Thus, if you take a warm shower, your body will be a comforting area for dermatophytes to overlap and increase. Thus, if you have pet an animal with ringworm rash, it is recommendable to quickly take a cold shower. And, wear latex gloves next time you want to pet the animal. 


Presuming that you are in an area where medical expertise is not available, you can treat ringworm using antifungal cream or lotions. They are majorly available with chemists upon non-prescription purchase. In case you feel any discomfort or improvement in symptoms after using the antifungal cream, you must quickly reach out to a doctor. Ringworm rash is treatable within 2 to 4 weeks. 


  1. Why would you take a cold shower if the ringworm is in your skin pores? All that does is close them up and prevents soap from cleaning it out.

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